Rowley Hills - Reserve Officer's Reports

November 2015 - Our Reserve Officer, Paul Stephenson, reports on what we have achieved this summer.

This has been a very successful time as the newly formed Friends of Rowley Hills has been getting well established.

Already they have had tremendous success in securing funding through the Grace Mary to Lion Farm (GM2LF) Big Local Partnership and a £10,000 Awards for All bid to allow a wide range of important habitat management and engagement with local people. This will be delivered by the Wildlife Trust and help establish the Friends, and help them gain experience and further their influence across the whole area of the Rowley Hills including sites such as Darbys Hill, Bury Hill Park and Turners Hill. One major success has been that the Friends lobbied Sandwell MBC to stop regular grass mowing on part of the Bury Hill Park hillside with the result that there has been a great show of Harebells and Hawkweeds flowering.

Although the Wildlife Trust only owns a small part of the important Portway Hillside our Portway Hill Nature Reserve serves as a focus for attracting interest on the hillside with the cairn and stone seating area becoming well used. The important geological features of the Dolerite cliff are being opened up by bramble removal to allow for easier access and viewing to show how this very hard igneous rock weathers with interesting “onion” type layers.

Some work will be undertaken here in the autumn / winter to maintain the structures and install a new sign. The habitat enhancement management has seen a lot of effort put into continuing the clearing of bramble scrub, helping the colourful wildflowers and hence invertebrates such as marbled white butterflies.

It is interesting to notice how this hard work is paying off on the Trust reserve and how this patch contrasts with the wider hillside. Butterfly walks are very popular and show the benefit of good habitat management.

This year has seen a tremendous array of colour with ox-eye daisies, bird’s foot trefoil, black knapweed, yellow rattle, clovers, vetches, hawkweeds and many others. A large amount of yellow rattle seed has been collected which will be used to help spread this species which has a positive effect of restricting grass growth and helps enhance the floral variety. Bee orchids have also been seen on the hillside. The area abounds with wildlife and you are virtually guaranteed to see kestrel and buzzard when visiting and sparrowhawk and peregrine falcon also visit.